Gateway to the Southern Ocean, and the oldest permanently settled town in WA! Albany is of course on the coastline, right at the bottom of WA, and has a well protected bay/harbour. This makes it rather pretty, if it weren’t for the overcast weather…
Monday (20/10/14) we had a look around Albany itself, through and between the passing showers. First, the view from Mount Clarence (where the Anzac memorial is):
Middleton beach is a nice area, with some decent surf despite being in the bay (waves coming through the inlet must aim here!).
Emu point is also quite nice.
We had a look around Strawberry Hill, the earliest producing farm in WA. It’s a National Trust place, and the lady there (volunteer I imagine) was keen to explain the buildings history. Lovely gardens too.
We stopped Monday night at the caravan park at Middleton beach. It was a Big 4 caravan park, and whilst they’re are expensive, they do bring benefits – the boys were off playing table tennis and pool in the games room most of the time. Nice to get a break!
Tuesday we headed around to Flinders Peninsula, as there are a number of tourist things out there. We started with the wind turbines, that provide Albany with 80% of there electricity needs. That’s awesome I reckon. They are big things, so whilst they appear to be rotating fairly slowly, the tips of the blades are actually moving at over 200km/hr – up to 280km/hr in high winds! There is a constant, but not loud, whoosh from the blades. The clouds helped make for some cool photos.
There is quite a slope running down to the ocean, which creates some nice uplift as the wind hits the hill. These paragliders were using this uplift to keep themselves up and fly along the coastline. Probably not the recommended spot for beginners though – wouldn’t want to be blown back into one of those wind turbines!!!
Next it was into Torndirrup National Park, to see the ‘natural bridge’ and the ‘gap’. We also stopped in at the blowholes a bit further along, but it was a 900m walk to see them and some people on the way back told us they weren’t actually ‘blowing’ at the moment. Could only hear the noise. Given we’ve already seen some good ones in WA, we decided not to bother!
The Salmon Holes are a bit further along in the same NP. A pretty beach, with some rock/ledges on the westerly end which can form pools – that presumably contain salmon at certain times of the year!
Final tourist destination for the day was the Historic Whaling Station. It is located at the original site where the whaling station was based, with much of the equipment and infrastructure still there. This was the last whaling station in Australia, closing in 1978. They continued to take sperm whales till then, after the ban on humpback whaling in 1963.
The whaling ship, the Cheynes IV is on display and open for visitors to explore. That was interesting – never been through an older steam engined ship like that!
Whaling’s a pretty gross activity by any account. The flensing (cutting up) of the whales was done basically manually on the wooden deck (with the help of winches to tear strips off). Almost everything, aside from the teeth, went into boilers to be broken down into whale oil, which was then sold. The guys doing this must have had real strong stomach’s – the smell is said to be horrible – a lot worse than an abattoir. There are only a few photos showing it graphically in colour (yuk!), and the video footage isn’t particularly graphic. But the real thing would have been gross and obviously not a nice thing to be doing, on several fronts!
The whale skeletons are pretty cool. Check out the size of this one! And it’s only a pygmy blue whale at around 22m – blue whales come a lot bigger than this!
We were at the whaling station for a few hours, and it was time to find a spot for the night. Heading back into Albany, we pulled into a caravan park on the way, on the shore of the Princess Royal Harbour. Certainly not the fanciest caravan park we’ve been to, but the price was OK (and Nicole even asked for and got a discount!). Turns out he just told us to go find a spot down the front – right near the water (we go unpowered)! So we were by ourselves with beautiful waterfront views, whilst everyone else was back in the somewhat dodgy caravan park. Probably the best caravan park spot (in terms of position and views) we’ve stayed at!
Wednesday morning, after some shopping and the like, it was goodbye Albany, we’re off to Esperance.